BY STEVE FIELDS
For the Brazil Times
CLAY CITY -- With 5 minutes and 34 seconds left in their opening high school basketball game Wednesday night, the Clay City Eels trailed the visiting South Vermillion Wildcats by 13 points. The Eels had trailed by double figures since early in the second quarter.
It would have been understandable for Clay City to pull in the oars and float on down the river to the next game. That didn't happen.
Clay City went on a 12-2 run and closed to within three points, 59-56, with 3:32 left in the game. That was the consolation prize Clay City coach Vance Edmondson took away from the 74-64 loss to South Vermillion.
"I'm pleased with the way we came out and played the second half. As inexperienced as we are to battle back, to cut it to (three) after being down 15, I'm proud of them," Edmondson said.
Sophomore Evan Rogers led Clay City with 19 points and classmate Trevor Singer netted 15 while pulling down a team-leading nine rebounds.
South Vermillion was led by Jordan Branz with 19 points.
This was a fast and furious, foul-filled and turnover littered basketball game -- a typical season opening contest. The two teams combined for 53 fouls and 43 turnovers.
But when Edmondson looked at the scorebook, free throw shooting stood out. The Eels hit just 11-26 free throws.
"We did some good things tonight, we did some bad things. If we just hit our free throws I think we win this game, and we're better shooters than that," Edmondson said.
South Vermillion hit 9-12 free throws in the final two minutes to pull away to the 10-point final margin.
Clay City shot 33 percent from the floor while launching 67 shots. South Vermillion, also starting two sophomores, put up 52 shots.
"We want to attack the basket, be aggressive, (pass out) to our shooters. We kind of did the opposite, we looked at our shooters then attacked the basket. We did a better job the second half. We want to get to the free throw line, we want to play up tempo," Edmondson said.
The score was tied 11-11 after the first quarter, but South Vermillion scored 17 of the next 19 points to take a 28-13 lead with 2:56 left in the second quarter.
A three by Singer cut South Vermillion's lead to 34-20 at halftime. Singer and Logan Cesinger got the Eels within seven, 34-27, in the first three minutes of the third period, but the Wildcats kept stretching the lead back into double figures and led 49-39 going into the fourth quarter.
In junior varsity play, Clay City opened with a 55-39 victory. Noah Denker led the Eels with 22 points.
Clay City returns to action at Union Dugger on Nov. 30.
South Vermillion (74)
Lawson 5-12 5-7 15, Morgan 1-3 0-1 2, Luft 3-5 0-0 7, Spivey 0-2 0-0 0, Branz 6-9 5-7 19, Hines 4-7 3-4 11, Waldrop 2-6 3-4 7, Strayer 0-2 3-4 3, Weyrach 3-6 1-3 10. Totals 24-52 FG, 20-30 FT, 74 TP.
Clay City (64)
Rogers 7-20 1-6 19, Phillips 0-4 3-4 3, Singer 6-19 0-0 15, Arcenal 2-5 2-3 7, L. Cesinger 3-9 2-5 9, Yocom 1-1 0-1 2, Miller 3-7 0-1 6, Booe 0-3 3-6 3, Myers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-67, 11-26 FT, 64 TP.
3Pt. Goals: SV 6-9 (Weyrach 3-4, Branz 2-3, Luft 1-1, Hines 0-1), CC 9-26 (Rogers 4-11, Singer 2-11, Arcenal 1-3, L. Cesinger 1-1). Total fouls: SV 26, CC 27. Fouled out: Spivey, Weyrach, Booe, L. Cesinger. Turnovers: SV 23, CC 20. Rebounds: SV 40 (Lawson 12), CC 45 (Singer 9). Steals: SV 5 (Branz 3), CC 11 (L. Cesinger 4). JV game: Clay City won 55-39.
Next game: South Vermillion (1-0) will host West Vigo on Nov. 30. Clay City (0-1) travels to Union Dugger on Nov. 30.